In the case of Bryant F. v. Department of Homeland Security, the plaintiff claimed that his supervisors harassed him by repeatedly making fun of him because he sustained a serious injury. According to the complaint, the plaintiff, who was a DHS special agent, broke his wrist performing work-related duties and had to have several surgeries to repair the damage.
The plaintiff claimed that his first-, second-, and third-line supervisors joked about his injury during his recovery from the surgeries. The lawsuit states that the supervisors would call him “the bowling team captain” because his cast resembled a bowling brace. Although the plaintiff complained about the jokes, the first-line supervisor said it was “just for fun.”
The first-line supervisor would also assign work tasks that the plaintiff couldn’t perform because of his disability and failed to accommodate the restrictions recommended by his doctor. The doctor recommended the plaintiff only perform office work and shouldn’t be out in the field due to the loss of mobility from the injury. Despite the doctor’s recommendation, the supervisor continued to assign the plaintiff fieldwork, which forced the plaintiff to ask other agents to cover his shifts. The second-line supervisor also complained about the plaintiff’s light-duty requirements and accused him of “trying to get out of his duty.”
While the complaint originally asked for a hearing, the request was withdrawn before the administrative judge issued a decision. The Commission sent the case back to the agency for a Final Agency Decision that ultimately said the plaintiff failed to prove any of his claims of discrimination or harassment.
The Commission reversed this decision and said the supervisors jokes amounted to workplace harassment. It also ruled that DHS failed to accommodate the plaintiff’s disability by continuing to ask him to perform restricted duties. As a result, the plaintiff won his case and several of the supervisors were ordered to be re-trained.